So imagine the delight manager Bud Black felt late Saturday -- and early Sunday -- when seven relievers combined for 10 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-5 victory over 16 innings against the Reds.
"The bullpen was unbelievable," Black said after the game. "We used everyone and they came through."
Two of the relievers, rookies Luke Gregerson and Luis Perdomo, came through big, each throwing three scoreless innings to keep the game in check until Nick Hundley won it in the bottom of the 16th inning with a home run.
The outings for Gregerson and Perdomo were important on several fronts. By working longer than they're accustomed to, the duo helped Black save any of his other pitchers -- he had considered using Wednesday's starter, Chad Gaudin -- from pitching.
"I can't say enough about the last two guys ... when every pitch is critical," Black said of Gregerson and Perdomo, each who had never pitched at the Major League level prior to this season. "You're talking about two guys with three months of Major League service."
Working three innings isn't something Gregerson or Perdomo are used to. Gregerson has only done it one other time in his career, in 2007 while pitching with Palm Beach, a Class A affiliate of the Cardinals.
Perdomo has done it twice, each of the past two seasons while playing in the Indians organization.
Gregerson allowed two hits in his three innings with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 47 pitches. Perdomo, who earned his first Major League victory, walked one and struck out one in his 35-pitch stint.
"Being a reliever, you never really get stretched out like that," Gregerson said. "I think you get a little tired, but you go out there and let the ball work for you instead of trying to throw harder ... let that sinker move, let that slider move.
"When I got in that third inning last night, that's what I did. I let that ball work for me."
Going into Sunday's game against the Reds, Padres relievers have tossed 14 1/3 shutout innings. In fact, the performance on Sunday lowered their team relief ERA from 5.00 to 4.58.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.